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Bardot outrage at Chinese cat slaughter

PARIS, Jan 8 (AFP) – Former screen goddess Brigitte Bardot has leapt to the defence of civet cats, which are being slaughtered in southern China as part of an attempt by local authorities to prevent a resurgence of SARS.

The ex-actress appealed in a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao to halt the campaign against “these innocent victims,” her animal rights organisation, the Fondation Brigitte Bardot, said Thursday.

“I am very cross and bitter since noticing that the country that France is celebrating this year for its millinary culture and refined civilisation, distinguishes itself once again by its cruel and barbarous slaughtering methods towards millions of animals,” according to the official translation of her letter.

“The well-being of man passes through the welfare of animals but it seems to be that this concept has still not been integrated by your country which is called developed!”

 China is taking centre stage in Paris cultural life with a year-long extravaganza of shows and exhibitions.

The southern Chinese province of Guangdong this week began to slaughter farmed civets, a weasel-like creature that can carry the virus for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The animals are being drowned in vats of disinfectant in a bid to destroy any virus.

An outbreak of SARS in 2002-2003 claimed around 800 lives in China, Southeast Asia and Canada before being halted by quarantines and isolation of suspected carriers.

However, no scientific evidence has emerged that pinpoints civets as the cause.

Several other animal species have also been found to carry the virus, but it is not yet known whether any can transmit it to humans or indeed whether they have picked up the agent from humans in the first place.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern about the slaughter, notably suggesting that that unprotected workers who are killing the civets could themselves spread SARS if the animals are in fact infectious.


                                Subject: France news